EE Supervisor Tips – The Viva Voce

Travis DixonExtended Essay

Being an EE supervisor can be tough. Hopefully posts like this can make it a little easier.

In this post, I will share my tips on how I do the viva voce – a compulsory final interview with the student after they’ve submitted their EE final draft. 

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The viva voce takes about 20-30 minutes and is conducted after the final draft is submitted. According to the EE Guide, the viva voce is an opportunity …

  • “…to ask the student a variety of open-ended questions to elicit holistic evidence of the student’s learning experience.”
  • “…for the supervisor to confirm the authenticity of the student’s ideas and sources.”
  • “…to reflect on successes and difficulties encountered in the research process.”
  • to gather information that will “…aid the supervisor’s comments on the Reflections on planning and progress form.” (EE Guide, pg 65).

With this in mind, I constructed a generic plan that I use every time I conduct the viva voce. I have these questions on a word or google doc with the student’s name. As they answer each question I take notes. This helps takes a lot of stress out of writing the report later on.

All EE Supervisors should have a copy of the EE Guide PDF downloaded. Although at 375 pages long, it can be a bit difficult to manage. I would recommend hyperlinking blog posts like this one somewhere in your EE Supervisor notes to make things easier.

Trav’s Viva Voce Plan

  1. Congratulate the student on getting to the end of the process (begin with something positive).
  2. What topics were you thinking of writing about at the beginning? (easy questions to build confidence and ease nerves)
  3. Why did you choose your specific topic?
  4. Tell me about how your research question evolved through the course of the research process?
  5. Can you give me a brief summary of the answer to your research question? (checking authenticity)
  6. Ask specific questions based on the students work. This is to confirm authenticity of the work. Can also be used to explain the supervisor reflection that the student shows they comprehend the research they have summarized in their essay.
  7. What were your biggest challenges through the course of the EE? Can you comment on how you overcame these?
  8. What have you learnt about the research process from researching and writing  your EE? Anything you hope to use in the future? e.g:
    1. How to find information
    2. Writing the report
    3. About psychology 
  9. Knowledge is power, but only if it can be applied. Can you tell me a bit about the personal significance of what you learned from doing the EE?
  10. End the interview with another congratulations and some kind words about the student’s EE.

Feel free to copy and paste these questions and/or adapt them for your own viva voce.

The above interview plan was created based on instructions included in the EE Guide (available to download through MyIB). The EE Guide recommends that in the viva voce, students “…can show what they have learned about the topic, the research process followed, their own learning, as well as outlining new questions they have uncovered. Most importantly…during the viva voce the RRS (researcher’s reflection space) may help to highlight the personal significance of the work to the student and ultimate contribute to the supervisor’s report.” (pg. 55). While the RRS is “strongly recommended,” it’s not mandatory. Students can discuss the personal significance of their work in the viva voce without referring to the RRS.

Remember that students are not to change their EE after the viva voce. 

Personally, I really enjoy the viva voce process as I like hearing the students talk about these topics they’ve become experts in. I hope the above plan is helpful for supervisors.